The Duke of Cambridge has issued a stern warning about the environmental ‘crisis’ engulfing the planet and the threat to its finely balanced ecosystems in a new BBC documentary series.
William highlights how humanity has created a world “at odds with the planet we live on” and calls for action “for the sake of future generations” in the five-part series that examines the environmental issues behind its Earthshot award .
His words are echoed by Sir David Attenborough, an Earthshot Prize judge, who recounts some of the programs and says humanity risks creating an “extinction event” similar to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
The Duke launched his ambitious award to find solutions to the planet’s environmental problems and overcome the pessimism many felt about his future, and in the documentary he appears in dramatic British landscapes, from mountains to the North Sea and an ancient ruined village of Orkney, as he illustrates his arguments.
The Future King presents each documentary dedicated in turn to one of the five global issues that have been selected as the categories for the Earthshot Prize: Protecting and Restoring Nature; Purify our air, revive our oceans; Building a world without waste; and Let’s fix our climate.
In the first episode of The Earthshot Prize: Repairing Our Planet, which premieres Sunday, William talks about his inspiration for the prizes – US President John F Kennedy’s moon landings, dubbed “Moonshot,” which resulted in technological breakthroughs.
Standing at the water’s edge in the Norfolk countryside on a moonlit night, William said: “As we searched for the moon, we found the land. For the first time, we were able to see that the world we live in is finite and precious.
“In the end, it woke us up to a distressing truth that we still try to come to terms with – the modern world we have built is at odds with the planet we live on.
“It has happened, our planet is now in crisis, its delicately balanced systems are becoming more and more unstable with each passing year. So for the sake of future generations, let’s act now.
“Let us take inspiration from the Moonshot, and set ourselves a global challenge for this decade, a common goal to unite behind, to mend our broken relationship with our planet and to build a better future for all.”
“It is precisely for this reason that I launched the Earthshot Prize, the most ambitious environmental prize in history. Each year until 2030 we will be awarding five £ 1million prizes to those who we believe can transform our chances of fixing our planet over the decade. “
The programs take an in-depth look at environmental issues around the world, from the loss of tropical forests in Borneo with the increase in palm oil plantations, to the destruction of the Amazon for cattle grazing and how the dams threaten marine life and the fishing livelihoods of people along the Cambodian section of the Mekong River.
Sir David said: “Over the past 50 years Borneo has lost 30% of its rainforests. “
He adds, “The reason why wilderness areas across the world are still being destroyed is simple, in today’s world, wilderness habitat brings in less financial income than cleared habitat.
Solutions to the problems are highlighted, from rewilding Knepp, a 3,500-acre estate in West Sussex where once intensively cultivated land has been returned to nature, to projects to reduce land used for farming. agriculture – a ‘cultured meat’ initiative in Israel and innovative housekeeping products growing in the Netherlands.
Wildlife habitat paid for itself in Il Ngwesi, central Kenya, with community leader Kip Ole Polos describing how he and his peers own and manage an ecotourism lodge.
He told the documentary: “Wildlife brings us tourism and tourism brings us jobs.”
But Sir David warned just as sternly as William, saying: “Mankind has left its mark on almost 95% of the Earth’s land surface. In the short period since 1970, populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians have reportedly declined by an average of 60%.
“We risk causing the largest extinction event since the dinosaurs died 65 million years ago.”
The three finalists in each category are featured during the series and include a 14-year-old Indian girl who designed a solar-powered ironing cart, the Government of Costa Rica, who initiated a project paying local citizens to restore natural ecosystems, and a Chinese app that allows its citizens to hold polluters to account.
The BBC series will air from Sunday ahead of the United Nations Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow on November 1, with the announcement of the Earthshot Prize winners on October 17.